• Nora Koch

Updated: Aug 15, 2019

July 24, 2019

I felt a weight slump against my side. There was little Geno, asleep in a position that would have given me an immediate neck spasm. He collapsed further onto me as I slid my arm around him and after a while, I slid him onto my lap. He never awoke. Both men I’d been sitting at the picnic table with leapt up and dabbed his mouth. He’d fallen asleep mid-brownie and it was running down his chin. They were worried about my white shirt. It was a privileged place to be sitting there holding this sleeping little boy. 

When asked about the highlight of the Communion and Liberation Family Vacation, I have to say this was it. It embodied the answer to so many longings in me – to be part of something that was much larger than me; to be vulnerable, to relax and talk to people on a deep level, about the things that really matter; to be trusted by a child.

EVERYone I spoke with over the course of four nights and days was available emotionally, without prying or trying to “help” and truly interested in what I had to say. I have never encountered so many strangers who did this. I felt free to be who I am, to be honest, vulnerable and joyful. As I left the campfire on Saturday night I was delighted to hear the chorus from Ghost Riders in the Sky ring out, a hundred strong, joyful voices. Yipee Yiaaaay, yipee yiyiiiii, . . . . 

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  • Nora Koch

Updated: Aug 19, 2019

July 22, 2019

I know this may sound unfair, paranoid, or cynical, but I believe it is true. Only one of the people who have asked me today how my summer has been going, or what I have been up to, if they even ask at all, cared to hear. If I did talk about how I just spent the last five days, I suspect it would make most of them very uncomfortable, even though none of what I did was any threat to anybody in any way. It was simply counter-cultural and these days, that is a big threat.

I am struck by how closed everyone is: their tone, their eyes, how they respond to questions, in comparison to how open everyone was over the past five days.

I did not know the majority of the people I spent time with at the beginning of our five days. There were only a handful of the 230 people whom I had ever met before. Yet there was an open heartedness, a willingness to be vulnerable and to want to truly know each other. We did not always share a language, a culture, or a faith. Yet I trusted them. If someone asked me a question about myself, it was clear they wanted to know what I had to say and valued what I said. Nobody talked any politics all five days.

I spend more time with the closed people than with the open people, but it is such a sad, truncated kind of time. Though I doubt they would admit it, I am “the enemy”. 

  • Nora Koch

Updated: Aug 19, 2019

July 2, 2019

I found out later that she was as surprised as I when she answered the door, that instead of her being taller than me by 2 ½ inches, I was now taller than her by the same! I’d driven 3.5 hours to have lunch with my Aunt Adeline in the town where I was born. At 92, she supplied the meal. She does not like restaurants; neither did her husband, my Uncle Gary, who died last December. I was delighted to eat barbeques that tasted just like those my mother made – they were very good, as was the cheese, pickles, potato salad, watermelon, and ice-cream that went along with them. Aunt Adeline has lost much of her hearing, but we communicated just fine. 

We spoke of the sad, deserted downtown of this place to which she returned after teaching and living in Oregon for 50 years. When I was a girl it was a bustling, thriving town where we went for all of the needs we could not supply from our farm. I had a nightmare one time, barefoot in town; we ran barefoot at home but wouldn’t think of being barefoot in public. The dime store was my favorite, of course; there was a fabulous toy section and an area where tiny glass and ceramic animals were sold. Dress shops supplied us with clothes, a department store had astonishing pneumonic tubes that the cashier used to exchange money in a little brass cylinder with the office upstairs. I purchased my first Beatle album: Beatles 65, in the Music Store, where one could sit in a booth and listen to records before purchasing them. Hunter’s, the grocery store was physically connected to a farm store. In springtime, we’d push the swinging doors and go back in time to a barn-like atmosphere with rough wooden floors, to see live chicks under a heat lamp.  

All that is gone now, and main street buildings are empty – one after another. With the demise of Shopko, the only place to buy clothes is Walmart, hunkered down north of the town proper, where it has been sucking the life out of the area for 30 years and which now finds itself preyed upon by Amazon. My Aunt, who does not use a computer has no other place to purchase what she needs, and she doesn’t like cheap things.

Avarice has its victims.

When we had finished our meal, I was admiring a photo of my grandparent’s home in winter, and of younger Aunt Adeline and Uncle Gary in photos on the wall in the hallway. My Aunt described the locations of the photos and commented on one of a buckskin horse, in a saddle and tied to a tree obviously in the wilderness. She and Uncle Gary used to go packing and camping on horseback in the mountains. She told me once that she was scared to go but didn’t want to be left behind, so she went anyway. I’ve always admired her for that courage. They had many adventures together, and owned numerous horses, some were Peruvian Paso Finos,

Aunt Adeline invited me to choose something, if I was interested in that sort of thing, from her curio cabinets and walls for myself for after she died. It felt a bit odd to do this, and yet was wonderfully freeing – the truth is, she will soon die, and we spoke of that during my time there. The first thing I chose was the photo of my Grandparent’s home, but that had already been claimed by a cousin, so I asked for the photo of the horse. It was a mare who both my Uncle and she rode in the mountains. She put my name on a sticker and put it on the back; I’m hoping Aunt Adeline remembers the mare’s name before she is gone, she couldn’t then. The last thing I need is another thing for my wall – we are overrun by art, but this is what I want to remember about them. She encouraged me to choose other items, so I found a delightful little creamer and sugar bowl in an Art Deco style from Austria. If I’d found it in a second-hand store, I’d have bought it even though I didn’t need it, so it is especially meaningful that it is from her. When she no longer needs a beautiful hand thrown ceramic bowl, I’ll get that as well.